Whether an older loved one is in the hospital for a planned procedure or an unplanned medical crisis, you might be left feeling vulnerable and helpless. You are trusting the trained medical experts to satisfy all of your loved one’s needs during their stay in the hospital and to know precisely what to do to help keep them feeling comfortable. Yet as a family caregiver, you do have a vital role to play to support a senior in the hospital: as an advocate for your loved one.
Before the need arises, it is a good idea to have a plan in place for how to support a senior in the hospital and offer the advocacy the person will need. These suggestions can help.
How Can You Support a Senior in the Hospital?
- Watch for hospital-induced delirium. This is a surprisingly common problem that can occur for many different reasons. In some instances, treatments such as narcotics and anti-anxiety meds induce delirium. Another potential culprit is insufficient sleep from the noises, ongoing monitoring, and bright lights during the night. To help, make sure the door is closed whenever possible to minimize noise from the hallway and ask for the lights to be turned down as low as possible during the night. Visit the person as much as you can to watch for warning signs of delirium. Your presence will provide a familiar face to help ground them while in strange surroundings.
- Provide engaging activities. Create a welcome distraction from the stress of being in the hospital by watching a movie together, staying with them during mealtimes, reading a book aloud, or playing quiet music they enjoy. Make sure they are updated on family news to help them feel plugged into the rest of the world. And it’s really true that laughter is often the best medicine! Find opportunities to share a laugh together if appropriate and welcomed by the individual.
- Improve comfort. Make the sterile hospital setting feel a bit more like home by bringing in a favorite pillow or blanket, sweater or robe, a novel they are reading, and their preferred personal hygiene products: lip balm, shampoo, lotion, soap, etc. You may want to bring a family photo or other memento to put on the nightstand. Be sure to leave anything of value at home.
- Make post-hospitalization arrangements. The best time to plan for discharge from the hospital is while the person is still hospitalized – or ideally, even before a planned hospital stay. There are a number of actions to take to ensure the home will be ready for their return. An in-home care provider should be a key part of an individual’s post-hospitalization strategy, in order to protect against a rehospitalization and to make sure the person is able to comfortably recover.
Inspired Home Care, serving clients in Chicago, Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, Wilmette, and the nearby areas, is here to support individuals before, during, and after a hospitalization, through services such as:
- Grocery shopping to make certain there are plenty of healthy foods in the home
- Making meals in accordance with any prescribed nutritional plan
- Picking up prescriptions and providing medication reminders
- Checking for changes in condition and reporting them immediately
- Providing support during walking and transfers to decrease the possibility of a fall
- And much more